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'Some boxers could end up homeless: Michael Conlan calls on promoters to help fighters through coronavirus crisis



Michael Conlan has revealed his fears for his fellow boxers.

Michael Conlan has revealed his fears for his fellow boxers.

�INPHO/Emily Harney



Michael Conlan has revealed his fears for his fellow boxers.

Michael Conlan has revealed his deep fear for the future of many professional fighters in light of the heavy impact that coronavirus will have on boxing over the coming months.

Having enjoyed an unbeaten rise up the world ladder running parallel with a global profile, the Belfast featherweight accepts that he will be to some degree insulated from the financial fall-out facing so many in the sport, despite his big fight in Madison Square Garden, scheduled for St Patrick's Day, being called off.

That came on the back of 10 weeks of training, which cost him "big money", including a proposed sponsorship deal that has been put in cold storage.

The plan had been for Conlan to fight in the Garden and then have either a world title bout or a final eliminator for a shot at one of the major belts but now he accepts that everything is up in the air. There had been a suggestion he would appear on the undercard of world light-welterweight champion Josh Taylor on May 2 but that bill in Glasgow has been postponed by promoter Frank Warren.

Conlan, managed by brother Jamie, returned from the Big Apple feeling devastated that his fight fell through but insisted that he feels more for those who are trying to make a living at the sport without the same rewards as he has been enjoying.

"I was in the middle of an interview when Jamie told me that the fight was off and I was just gutted. I had got my mind ready for the fact that I would be fighting behind closed doors in the Garden on St Patrick's Day and how that would still be a very big deal so it did hit me hard when it was cancelled, but I'm not going to cry over it because I know there are people much worse off than me," said Conlan, ranked highly by all the governing bodies.

"The majority of fighters are living from one pay cheque to the next so if they don't fight they don't get paid and that is devastating. Now we really don't know when boxing will be on again and I fear that some boxers could end up homeless because they can't afford to pay the mortgage or the rent and all the other bills they have.

"Everyone on that New York card would have been training for a long time but because it's cancelled none of them got paid. This is the way professional boxing is and a lot of fighters are going to hit hard times because of this deadly virus.

"I know that this is a mercenary sport, it's a brutal business, but I feel that some of the top promoters could look at what they could do for their fighters to help them get through the next three months or so.

"Even my own promoters Top Rank could maybe give their fighters who need it something like two thousand a month to help guys survive and the same could go for the big promoters in the UK. It would be a great gesture.

"I know the promoters will say that they're not making money because there are no shows and no TV revenue but I'm sure they could help in some way until we are through the worst of this crisis."

With his major plans on ice, Conlan is currently enjoying family time with wife Shauna, daughter Luisne and son Michael jnr.

"Having been in camp for so long, it's been good to have quality family time and also to eat what I want but I'm going to start back to the gym and keep ticking over. It's all I can do at the moment," he added.

While he would naturally love to be boxing once again at the Falls Park in August, Conlan admits that now seems unlikely. Indeed, the featherweight star is aware that a world title opportunity may well have to wait until 2021.

"I'm trying not to think too much about what may or may not happen. For now it's about just taking each day as it comes and not looking too far ahead. It wouldn't surprise me if I didn't return to the ring until September but really we're in a situation now that we just don't know," added Conlan, whose dad coaches the Irish Elite team.

"I'm fortunate in that I have all I need in my garage to stay fit.

"I've got my speed ball, the punching bag, a running machine and bike so I go there and train and to be honest kill some time as well.

"With the Olympic hopefuls having their tournament cancelled, I'll probably get to do some work with my dad and if any of the guys out there want to have some sparring I'm up for that if we can arrange it.

"It's a crazy time and I just hope that we can all get through it and maybe learn to make a bit more time for each other."

Belfast Telegraph